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Food Network Analysis - February 2010

FEBRUARY 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

Food network has a ton of recognizable titles and rotates them through their schedule from month to month effectively.  They use quite a lot of half hours. This network, more than most nonfiction channels these days, has a predictable Sunday night. On Sundays, high production value studio based cooking competitions rein.  Food Network doesn't strip and Sunday night is the only reliable true stack. Other nights seldom run more than two episodes of a title, but will often match those two with a couple of similarly-spirited programs, creating a sort of affinity stack. At this shop, should anything less than three hours be called a short stack?

FEBRUARY 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / February 2010 vs. February 2009  (% Change)

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

What a difference a month makes. Food Network was really strong out of the gate in January, but February was tough, tough, tough. Month-to-month, HHs were down a painful 21%, younger and older men were down 21% and 24%, respectively, and younger and older women were down 21% and 23%, respectively. Yearly comparisons were disappointing, as well. Households fell 8%, men in both age groups by about 12% and women in both categories by 2%. Only one new series title appeared in the schedule, and that happened on the first night of the month. The 6-hour competition WORST COOKS IN AMERICA concluded with an all-evening stack. The finale more than doubled February averages for all categories - HH, all men and all women.

That one-week boost from the WORST COOKS IN AMERICA finale, combined with a heavy rotation of the reliable DINERS, DRIVE INS & DIVES made Monday the only night of the week to post positive numbers.

DINERS, DRIVE INS & DIVES - even with twenty telecasts, the most of any title in February - was the only series with a HH rating significantly above network average (this does not count the one night of WORST COOKS IN AMERICA)

Further emphasizing the importance of DINERS, DRIVE INS & DIVES, it accounted for a whopping 12 of the network's top twenty telecasts in February - eight of them in the top ten.  BEST THING I EVER ATE contributed 4 telecasts to the list,  WORST COOKS IN AMERICA one, IRON CHEF AMERICA one, CHOPPED one,  and FOOD NETWORK CHALLENGE, one.

With a raft of Food Network premiers scheduled in March, perhaps the memory of a horrible February will fade quickly. We'll know if just a few weeks.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

This network, one of the most clever in the cable universe for many years, needs you. The snazzy, studio-based Super-Bowl-like cooking competitions are still solid, but DINERS, DRIVE INS & DIVES, a field-produced roadshow dominates at the moment. A competitor, TLC, has dipped its toe into these potentially lucrative waters with a new series about BBQ competitions, thus blending two proven concepts. Here, as much as at any network, personality rules. Guy Fieri (a competition winner himself) is what makes DINERS, DRIVE INS & DIVES WORK. Imagining that show without him is like thinking DIRTY JOBS on Discovery would work without Mike Rowe. So... look for a new twist for these folks, whether in the field or back in the studio. They're surely looking for both. But don't even think about it if you don't have some good, promotable on-camera talent in mind.